Thursday, November 20, 2008

November 23: Jesus Christ the King, Year A

November 23: Our Lord Jesus Christ the King, Year A
Readings: Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17; 1 Cor. 15:20-26, 28; Matt. 25:31-46

On this last Sunday of the year, we celebrate the feast of Christ the King. The theme of preparedness reaches a climax with the final judgment on the basis of our concern and love for others. Ezekiel in the First Reading uses the image of shepherd to underline how much God loves and cares for his people with compassion and tenderness. Thus God assumes the role of shepherd for his sheep, finding the lost, gathering the scattered, healing the wounded and caring for the healthy ones. God as Shepherd is also presented as Judge between one sheep and another, between rams and he-goats”, – a reference to separating the good from the bad. In the second reading, Paul portrays Jesus Christ as a powerful and awesome Lord and King. As all have died because of the fall of Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ. Christ is presented as the all-powerful ruler to whom all power and authority must eventually give way.”He must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.” And the last enemy to be destroyed will be death. Christ represents life, life in all its fullness. Christ wants to share that life with every single person. “For Just as in Adam all die, so too all too in Christ all shall be brought to life”, having subjected all evil forces. The last enemy to be subjected is death.

The Gospel passage from Matthew 25 presents before us the final judgment. We hear that Jesus will come in His glory with all the angels. He will sit on the Throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. The sheep will be placed at His right and the goats at His left, which indicates the separation of the good and from the bad. That separation is done in a special way that surprises all. They discover their ignorance of the presence of Jesus in their brothers and sisters. Now they have greater surprise when Jesus says, “Truly, I tell you, just as you did or did not do it to one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did or did not do it to me.” The truth is that Jesus identifies with every person created in God’s image and likeness. We note that none of the things Jesus mentions are religious in nature; there is no direct mention of any commandments observed or violated; people are condemned not for doing anything that is morally wrong but inaction. All actions centre round Jesus because Jesus is truly present in every person we meet. Today’s Gospel therefore echoes the eternal Divine love and justice Jesus Christ our King, who shows his eternal love to those who have shown God’s mercy and compassion to their brothers and sisters. What is the central message? 1) Jesus in the Gospel teaches us how his followers should live while on their earthly journey. 2) In response to that message we are challenged to show compassion on Christ’s less fortunate children, because at the final judgement, the criterion will be the very life and concern of Christ towards others and particularly the less fortunate whom we meet everyday. 3) To put this message into practice, one may choose a particular work of mercy, and do it out of Christian concern and solidarity. Concretely, one may visit the sick, the elderly, or prisoners. One may also give alms to the poor or intervene for the voiceless. If one is in a position of leadership, you may do whatever is possible to better the condition of the poor in your area.

©2008 John M. Mbinda

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